Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Backcountry Stoves

MSR Pocket Rocket

There are two types of backcountry stoves to choose from: those that use canister fuel and those that use liquid fuel. The canister type comes in a variety of styles, and all of them use pressurized fuel that is either butane or a mixture of butane and propane. Of the two kinds of canister fuels, the blended-fuel type produces a hotter flame. Even so, all fuel canisters will fade in cold weather and at high altitudes. Almost all liquid-fuel stove systems use inexpensive white gas, which burns more efficiently than either type of canister fuel. The liquid fuel stove is also more efficient at high altitudes and cold temperatures. What’s more, when a liquid fuel stove runs out of gas, it only requires refilling the empty cylinder, whereas with canister fuel the entire canister has to be replaced.

The canister stove may burn somewhat more powerfully than the liquid fuel stove at first, but it loses its efficiency proportionately as pressure and fuel decrease. What’s more, with most brands of canister units, there is no effective way of controlling the fuel output. Liquid gas stoves, on the other hand, come equipped with a pump and a flow control valve, allowing far greater regulation of the fuel. The Mountain Safety Research (msr) “Pocket Rocket,” however, is an extremely lightweight, ready-to-use canister system that does permit control of fuel flow.

The only real benefit of the pressurized canister system is its easy set-up and use. You just attach the canister, light the stove, and it heats up immediately, while the liquid gas stoves are more finicky and time-consuming to set up. But even among liquid gas stoves, there are levels of craftsmanship, and msr’s WhisperLite Internationale has been proven reliable for decades. It boils water quickly and simmers very effectively, even in high winds, rain and cold and at high altitudes.
MSR Whisperlite International

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